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It was first published in 1936 and is considered the greatest Hindi novel of modern Indian literature, although originally written in Urdu. Themed around the socio economic deprivation as well as the exploitation of the village poor, the novel was the last complete novel of Premchand. Its English translation first published in 1968, by Gordon C. Roadarmel is now also considered a classic by itself
The protagonist, Hori, a poor peasant, desperately longs for a cow, a symbol of wealth and prestige in rural India. In a Faustian twist of fate, Hori gets his cow, but ends by paying for it with his life. After his death, the village priests demand a cow from his widow to bring his soul absolution, and peace (Godaan). The narrative can be said to represent the existence of the average Indian farmer under colonial rule, with the protagonist facing cultural and feudal exploitation.

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